By Mike Fitzpatrick
Rangers 0-21, Donegal 0-13
Rangers finally clinched the junior championship trophy at Gaelic Park on Sunday last after a wait of 18 years.
Denis Twomey, the well-known boss of the Blues, was certainly a happy man as he and his side proudly paraded around the park with their well earned trophy. It was a long time coming, but Rangers are now fit and ready to join the big boys.
The game opened with both sides hitting a couple of scores, although neither team could grab hold of the tie to move into a decent lead. The Ulster side’s influential midfielder Gary Dowd, the man who has proved so effective in Donegal’s run to the final, was forced to leave the fray early due to an ongoing collar bone injury. Dowd’s presence was sorely missed, as was that of Eamon Shaughnessy, also forced off the field due to injury.
Rangers took full advantage, and began to step up a couple of gears. Mark Fitzgerald continued with his excellent form and stormed toward the posts at every opportunity, grabbing himself a healthy tally of seven points in the process. He was joined on the scoresheet by John Regan and Dave Ryan, who nabbed 12 between them.
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Rangers worked on their three-point lead at the half-time break to increase their advantage to six, and Donegal’s hopes looked down and out.
Donegal’s attempts at moving forward were thwarted by some fine defensive work from Mike Rennicks and Tomas Maher, and with Mike Bishop in inspiring form, Rangers looked unstoppable.
The Blues finally nabbed what has eluded them for so long, and after having been disappointed so many times in the past, no one begrudges them this victory.
Rangers: John Williams, Mal McHugh, Mike Rennicks, Tom Bermingham, Tomas Maher (0-2), Mike Byrne, Fintan O’Shea, Mike Bishop (0-1), Rory Hussey, Mark Fitzgerald (0-6), John Regan (0-6), Conor Beggan, Dave Ryan (0-5), Dave Phelan, Cormac Murray. Subs: Mike Sheridan, Phil Bermingham, Sean Concannon, Kevin Martin, Sean Coffey, Derek Courtney.
Donegal: Frank Molloy, Enda Lohan, Mark McClafferty, Paddy Burns, Owen Farrell, Eamon Shaughnessy, Gary Rocks, Gary Dowd, John Levins, Liam Gallagher (0-2), Peter Loughran (0-8), Anton Diver (0-1), Dermot Boylan (0-2), Tony O’Donnell, Tadhg O’Donovan. Subs: Mickey McBride, Leslie McGettigan, James Doherty.